Where the eyes wander: The relationship between mind wandering and fixation allocation to visually salient and semantically informative static scene content

Kristina Krasich*, Greg Huffman, Myrthe Faber, James R. Brockmole

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Vision is crucial for many everyday activities, but the mind is not always focused on what the eyes see. Mind wandering occurs frequently and is associated with attenuated visual and cognitive processing of external information. Corresponding changes in gaze behavior-namely, fewer, longer, and more dispersed fixations-suggest a shift in how the visual system samples external information. Using three computational models of visual salience and two innovative approaches for measuring semantic informativeness, the current work assessed whether these changes reflect how the visual system prioritizes visually salient and semantically informative scene content, two major determinants in most theoretical frameworks and computational models of gaze control. Findings showed that, in a static scene viewing task, fixations were allocated to scene content that was more visually salient 10 seconds prior to probe-caught, self-reported mind wandering compared to self-reported attentive viewing. The relationship between mind wandering and semantic content was more equivocal, with weaker evidence that fixations are more likely to fall on locally informative scene regions. This indicates that the visual system is still able to discriminate visually salient and semantically informative scene content during mind wandering and may fixate on such information more frequently than during attentive viewing. Theoretical implications are discussed in light of these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Vision
Volume20
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

Keywords

  • visual attention
  • scene viewing
  • mind wandering
  • visual salience
  • semantic informativeness
  • SACCADIC SUPPRESSION
  • ATTENTION
  • BRAIN
  • PERCEPTION
  • MOVEMENTS
  • NETWORK
  • THOUGHT
  • STREAM
  • MODEL
  • OVERT

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